With the Mavericks' self-titled new album, though, cowboys need not worry: Only the gorgeous "Wondering" reminds one of a bolero. The rest is pure roots and gutsy bliss. It is a catchy but powerful comeback record with vintage rock, country, and blues; never-ending choruses à la "Hey Jude" (just to name one of several Beatles homages); the usual good songwriting; out-of-this-world singing by Malo; a Willie Nelson collaboration; and a refreshing cover of the Hollies' "Air That I Breathe."
But no matter how many embellishments his group adds, Malo's voice remains the factor that sets it apart. He starts off with "I Wanna Know," a twisted Byrds-meet-XTC anthem, and goes on to touch nerves through ballads like "A Little Too Lonely" and melt hearts in the multilayered blues "By the Time," his range allowing him to shine in each setting. In the past his marvelous pipes have earned him comparisons with Roy Orbison and even Sinatra. At times on The Mavericks, he sings with the perfection and feeling of a gospel-inspired Elvis. Not bad for a former Miami kid.